The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Casey Holcomb

Pipeline Construction Under Lake Thunderbird Sparks Rally

Concerned Residents Rally for Clean Water and Policy Change


The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition is inviting area residents to attend a public rally for clean water outside Norman City Hall on December 18th beginning at 4:30pm. Coalition leaders will rally and address a city council meeting demanding that policies and regulations be put in place to protect city water sources and more fully involve the public in decision making processes. The Our Water Rally will be a peaceful public gathering of concerned residents who share the common goal of protecting water resources, air quality, and land from the hazards of oil and gas development.

Lake Thunderbird, the Garber-Wellington aquifer, and the Little River watershed supply drinking water to hundreds of thousands of residents in the central Oklahoma region--including the Absentee Shawnee tribe and metro-area cities such as Moore, Noble, Norman, and Midwest City. Currently, the policies in place do not protect these important water resources. The city of Norman has permitted a new 24 inch pipeline that will transport crude oil under Lake Thunderbird. The new pipeline will run adjacent to and replace an existing pipeline in hopes of both creating an updated pipeline system and allowing for increased crude oil production. However, citizens have argued that rerouting the pipeline would better protect water resources. Organizers say that permits were granted without proper public notice or due diligence.

Plains All American Pipeline LP, the company responsible for constructing the pipeline, spilled 19,000 gallons of crude oil into an urban area of Los Angeles in May of 2014. If a similar incident were to happen in Oklahoma, it would be devastating to wildlife, affect access to clean drinking water, and it could possibly render portions of the lake permanently damaged and untreatable.

Some coalition members say Norman should stop issuing such permits until new regulations are in place that address the changing landscape of oil and gas practices. Regardless of new drilling methods, heightened numbers of spills, and research suggesting potentially dangerous links between oil & gas practices and water pollution, new permits are still being issued and new wells are being drilled. Meanwhile no policies are in place in Norman that require pre-testing of water pollutants near proposed drilling sites, making it impossible to fully assess the impact that oil and gas has on our water resources.

Speakers at the Our Water Rally include Jesse Robbins (Red Eagle) indigenous activist, hip hop artist, and poet, Alecia Onzawah, member of Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and Idle No More Central Oklahoma organizer, and Angela Spotts, prominent anti-fracking activist and founding member of Stop Fracking Payne County.

Concerned citizens and organizers will assemble at 4:30 at the corner of Gray St and Santa Fe in front of the Norman City Hall. The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition is calling for changes in regulatory practices to ensure that both public notification and protection of water resources are considered in the future.

The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition is a broad-based grassroots group that includes members from state & local environmental groups and concerned area residents, all of whom share a common interest in protecting our land and public water sources from the damage caused by irresponsible policies and practices.

Sponsors of the rally include Sierra Club - Red Earth Group, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, Sooner Utilities, Stop Fracking Payne County, OUr Earth, Idle No More - Central Oklahoma, Grand Riverkeeper/Lead Agency, S.P.I.R.I.T. Society to Protect Indigenous Rights & Indigenous Treaties, Clean Energy Future OK, Oklahoma Sierra Club, Center for Conscience in Action, Green Party of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma IWW

Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance is a coalition of Great Plains organizations and individuals dedicated to using direct action to stop tar sands extraction and transportation infrastructure, like the Keystone XL pipeline, in the beautiful heartland of North America.